A plan that the Ketchikan Gateway Borough hopes will improve tourism-related congestion at Herring Cove is up for a public hearing and final vote during Monday’s Borough Assembly meeting.
The program would be paid for through cruise passenger head-tax funds, and would issue permits for tour businesses that take visitors to Herring Cove for fish and bear viewing.
To obtain a permit, tour operators would have to sign off on a list of rules. They include not dropping passengers off, picking them up or directing them to the highway. Permits also would prohibit parking in the public right-of-way, and impeding traffic by driving too slowly.
Herring Cove is a popular tourist destination, but there’s little if any infrastructure there. Visitors often congregate on the busy, narrow bridge, which is part of the highway, in order to get a better view of wildlife in the creek below. The borough has started plans for a pedestrian bridge. But that will take some time.
When the ordinance was introduced at the March 3rd Assembly meeting, tour operators complained that there is no parking available at Herring Cove, and the permit process would hurt their businesses.
In a report to the Assembly, staff members write that there is some parking now, and if nearby Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary was willing to rent parking spaces, that would double the space available.
Also Monday, the Assembly will consider the first reading of a rezone request for about 6.7 acres of land in between the Third Avenue Bypass and the Ketchikan Public Library. The rezone would split what now is zoned low-density residential into general commercial and heavy industrial.
Site development would include blasting to reduce the steep grade. After that, the site would be used to crush rock. In the interest of disclosure, the development site is next to the KRBD radio station, and KRBD’s Board of Directors has submitted comments in opposition to the rezone.
Monday’s Assembly meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in Borough Assembly chambers at the White Cliff building. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.